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05 November 2017

Global Burden of Cancer Among Young Adults Aged 20-39 Years - IARC Press Release

International Agency for Research on Cancer
30 October 2017

Global burden of cancer among young adults aged 20–39 years 

Lyon, France, 28 October 2017 – A new study by researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), published today in The Lancet Oncology, 1 examines for the first time the global burden of cancer among young adults aged 20–39 years. The report provides critical evidence of the burden of the disease in this age group and highlights the urgent need for adequate prevention measures, timely diagnosis, and cancer care.

Cancer burden in young adults 

Worldwide, almost 1 million new cases of cancer and 400 000 cancer-related deaths occurred among young adults aged 20–39 years in 2012. Overall, the most common cancer types in terms of new cases were female breast cancer, cervical cancer, thyroid cancer, leukaemia, and colorectal cancer, and the most common types of cancer-related deaths were those due to female breast cancer, liver cancer, leukaemia, and cervical cancer.

The burden was disproportionately greater among women, with an estimated 633 000 new cancer cases (65% of all new cancer cases in that age group) and 194 000 cancer-related deaths (54% of all cancerrelated deaths in that age group) in 2012. The most common cancer types affecting women aged 20– 39 years were breast cancer (30%), cervical cancer (18%), and thyroid cancer (10%).

“Given the particularly heavy burden of breast and cervical cancers, increasing awareness of cancer in young women at both the public and professional levels as well as timely treatment is of key importance,” says the article’s lead author, Dr Miranda Fidler of the IARC Section of Cancer Surveillance. “National human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programmes, early detection, and, in women older than 30 years, screening, could significantly reduce the global burden of cervical cancer in young women, at a limited cost.”

Cancer patterns in young adults

Cancers affecting young adults are a bridge between paediatric and adult oncology. In this study, common tumour types among children (0–14 years) and adolescents (15–19 years), including leukaemia and cancers of the brain and central nervous system, were among the most common cancers in the age group 20–39 years...

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